Making America Beautiful Again

This spring let’s grow some hope together & Make America Beautiful Again.

I love these words from Richard Blanco, one of my favorite poets. “How I still want to sing despite all the truth of our wars and our gunshots ringing louder than our school bells, our politicians smiling lies at the mic, the deadlock of our divided voices shouting over each other instead of singing together. How I want to sing again – beautiful or not, just to be in harmony – from sea to shining sea – with the only country I know enough to know how to sing for.”

Richard Blanco’s “America the Beautiful Again” can be found in his 2019 poetry collection titled How To Love A Country. The dedication page declares “These poems are for all those whose trailblazing footsteps I followed here, and for all those I now walk alongside with compassion, hope, and the audacity to believe that someday all of us will walk together.”  You can read it in its entirety here.

I’ve always liked the sound and feel of the word “audacity”.  I knew it meant ‘bold’ and ‘daring’, but when I actually looked it up, I liked it even more. Audacity: boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.  Hmmnnn.  Disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.  What might that mean for me personally?  What might it mean for me, at 84, to become audacious (or as some might say “more audacious”?)  What does it take for others? What would it take for you?  And why should we, in our golden years, go that extra mile after all? Haven’t we done enough already?  Haven’t we earned the right to play the ‘old’ card? Surely there are others more qualified to step out and speak up …  to keep us from annihilating ourselves and destroying our planet … sometimes I just feel so tired.

And then, one more time, as all around us I see lunacy being normalized, I remind myself of the good that is happening everywhere, thanks to the everyday people who have chosen to neither stand back nor stand by.  I breathe in the goodness, courage, and persistence I am surrounded by when I choose to look into the light.

Looking back at what I’ve posted on this website in the nine months of its existence, especially April 5th, I begin to recognize the part that may be mine to play … finding myself neither standing back nor standing by, but rather, standing up and standing with … pointing people in a direction they may not have come upon themselves, opening windows to a different landscape … perhaps sometimes ‘preaching to the choir’, but always welcoming those who seek to make the circle more inclusive.

For instance, while Oklahoma is busy de-funding National Public Radio because the governor and his wise advisors think that Bert & Ernie are a threat to children, PBS and our own Oregon Public Broadcasting boldly host documentaries like Pacific Heartbeat / The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu.

And how about news that The U.S. book ban battle is escalating, and some libraries face an existential threat: the loss of public funding. Missouri is the latest state to consider bills that would strip libraries of funding if they don’t follow new policies controlling what books they can give minors. It serves us all to keep a close eye on what is happening with our libraries. Remember Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 ??

Speaking of post-apocalyptic … one of my favorite Netflix series, Sweet Tooth, has finally returned with Season 2. (Full disclosure: I binge-watched it all and then went back to watch Season 1 again). It might not be your cup of tea, but if it is, I’d love to hear from you.

And while drugs like fentanyl, tranq, crack, and heroin are killing people every day, it is good to remember that there are lives being saved in church basements across the country … and poets like Joan Kwon Glass, writing about them.

Hymn to Church Basements

By Joan Kwon Glass

This world loves a grand cathedral:
its righteousness and pulpit,
purported sanctuary of redemption,
holy spire & stilled saints,
history of fire & painted glass.
Pews where congregants pray & worship,
troubled by questions they hope someone
has answers to.

They wait on their knees to be forgiven.

But where are the songs of praise
for church basements?
That lower level, that rock bottom room
sunken and reverent with flickering lights,
water-stained ceilings & coffee-stained carpets,
its full moon of chairs that appear
every night at 8:00 because a crackhead
made a commitment.
We don’t kneel in church basements.
Instead, we squat against walls
& stand arms crossed in doorways.
We sit slouched & messy, look each other in the eyes
& say, I am an addict and I don’t want to die.
& oh God, is this not a kind of miracle?

I prefer my angels banged up & salty,
chubby from eating cookies instead of shooting dope.
They pull splinters from their wings,
hug the newcomers too tightly,
shake their heads at me when I don’t raise my hand to share.
No matter how tough I try to look, no matter how long it takes,
they say keep coming back, kid.

Tonight, the addict who overdosed last month,
the one who had to be revived with Narcan,
is making the coffee.

I, too, prefer my angels banged up & salty …   but you probably knew that already. 

And then, there’s the guns thing. It’s not going away any time soon. Portland Singer & Songwriter, Terri Grayum, is one with the absolute audacity to speak to that issue in a way that makes me want to get her song, “Daughters & Sons,” out there everywhere.  After listening to it here, maybe you can help with that effort too.  And if you’d like to see Terri singing it live, consider coming to the West Hills UU Fellowship’s Social Justice Service “Freedom & Justice: I cannot do Everything, but still I can do Something”, on Sunday, May 28th at 10:30.  The service will be live-streamed and recorded and we’ll post “Daughters & Sons” here as well.

Oh yes, one more thing. My rascal friend, theater artist & community activist Paul Susi is celebrating his 42nd birthday next Thursday with a re-mount of “An Iliad,” the stunning theater piece that he and cellist Anna Fritz, brought to over 30 prisons, schools, theaters, and churches in 2017-2019. The birthday performance will be at West Sylvan Middle School (you can read about it on Paul’s siteAND  on Saturday, March 13th on WHUUF’s Sanctuary Stage.  Here’s what you need to know about that.

Saturday, May 13th 7-9pm on our Sanctuary Stage
WHUUF’s Social Justice Steering Committee is proud to host
Actor Paul Susi & cellist Anna Fritz
in a benefit performance of
An Iliad.

This project toured to over 30 prisons, schools, places of worship, and theaters all over Oregon (including WHUUF) in 2017-2019. Paul Susi & Anna Fritz have now been commissioned by the 6th Grade Class at West Sylvan Middle School to mount this project again!

FREE TO ALL, with donations gratefully accepted, the WHUUF performance will help raise funds for Paul & Anna to tour this amazing work to more prisons and schools again this fall.

Each performance features monologues by Paul Susi and live music composed and performed by Anna Fritz.

If you missed “An Iliad” the first time around, you’ll want to take advantage of this great opportunity … and bring your friends for a fine evening of truly fine theater. You won’t be sorry! 

More info about Anna and her work at
More info about Paul and An Iliad at

And now, truly, just one more thing  …   the current update on my Amazon eBook launch … Pre-orders have begun and you can leave a review right here! Sadly, the lowest price Amazon allows me to offer it at is $.99, so the $.84 price for my 84th birthday was foiled. If the $.15 makes a diference in your buying it, you can still get it on my own site here.

 Wishing us All a Happy Cinco DeMayo! and even as the coronation of King Charles III happens across the pond, we celebrate Making America Beautiful Again.

Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedback
View all comments

Also happy Sweet Tooth is back! Not-so-subtle answer to discrimination. Another word to ponder – verve. Did not know the word/definition until someone told me it took “verve” to drive to Alaska … alone. I simply called it an adventure.

I'd love your thoughts, please share!x